Cherokee law student elected NALSA President
NORMAN, Okla. - John Trevor Hammons, Cherokee Nation tribal member and second year law student at Oklahoma University's School of Law, has been elected president of the school's Native American Law Student's Association (NALSA). In his capacity as president, Hammons, who is also an enlisted reserve officer at Tinker Air Force Base, will act as chapter representative to the OU law school, tribes and various legal organizations. He will also undertake fund-raising activities that support the chapter's participation in national programs such as the annual Federal Indian Bar Conference. He says it is "a great honor" to be chosen for the job.
NALSA is a national organization for Indian law students that promotes the study of federal Indian law, supports Native American law students, engages in Indian community outreach, and helps educate the legal community about Native American issues. Hammons' goal as president will be to "continue to build the NALSA program so that it will be on par with other major university Indian Law programs."
Hammons is a 2001 graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, with a bachelor of arts degree in Criminal Justice. He says that after graduation, he wanted to get involved in something other than law enforcement, and decided on law because of its importance for all American Indians. "Law is the field where the biggest changes in the federal/tribal relationship happen. One simple case can change the whole of Federal Indian policy. In order for American Indians to be fully cognizant of all issues and be able to fully deal with those issues, we must have a thorough understanding of the intricacies of the law." Hammons also says that his legal studies have changed the way he looks at criminal justice issues in general. "Many people are unaware of their personal and constitutionally protected rights," he adds.
Hammons, makes his home in Norman, Okla. and spends his free time fishing and hunting. He enlisted in the Air Force Reserves in 1996, and serves with the 507th Air Refueling Wing as a Command Post Controller. Although after he passes the bar he hopes to have further involvement with Indian law issues, he plans to work toward a career as an Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG). He would also like to encourage more Indian students to pursue careers in law. "We need legally-trained Native Americans in order to continue to preserve our inherent rights and culture," he points out. He offers this advice to Indians who are thinking about a career in law: "Study hard and don't be discouraged."
His mother, Diane Hammons, works as the director of the Cherokee Nation Justice Department. She is proud of her son's accomplishments, but not surprised. "He's a very intelligent man who accomplishes anything he sets out to do," she says.